Ramping up of symptoms

Posted , 6 users are following.

I know that this is a well worn path, but  ...

Having suffered major depression for most of my adult life (4 separate long-term stays in hospital, goodness knows how many different kinds of treatment - including ill-fated ECT), I finally got 'top  side' of it after a stay in a specialist unit in Newcastle 15 years ago (I didn't suddenly get better, it was still a long road and CBT helped enormously). I finally got back to work 8 years ago - after being unable to work for 10 years - when I took on being manager of a charity shop. I did this successfully for 5 years, after which I left to do a PGCE, which I loved, and am now working at an FE college - not teaching, but I'm studying for my Level 5 subject specialism in literacy and ESOL and working in a lovely team. 

HOWEVER, I've been peri menopausal for about 8 years - which has been a nuisance, with bad night sweats, intensified PMS symptoms, concentration problems and an overwhelming desire to punch anyone who so much as looks at me 'wrong'(!). [This particularly applies to all women who have loftily informed me that they had 'decided not to have a menopause' (meaning, in other words, it's a 'mind over matter' issue. My interpretation of this is that they clearly have had very few symptoms and imagine that this is how it is for all women)]. 

Over the the past few months, my symptoms have ramped up several gears and almost every night is a sheet changing night. Worse, though, is the emotional stuff - I'm highly anxious, depressed, lethargic and just cry and cry ... 

I worked SO hard to get myself well after my depression - I felt I was well for the first time in my life (I had experienced low mood since being about 11 or 12, before it got to hospitalisation when I was 31). I didn't just feel it, I really was.

I'm 49 next week and feel as though I can't face it, or life in general.  I just sort of muddle through and wonder what has happened to the confident and relaxed woman I worked so hard to become. if I manage to get through the day without crying / having to lie down I'm doing well. I can't face other people - though I manage to hold it together at work.

I really want HRT - I am just not prepared to go through this longer than I have to, having felt like cr*p for so much of my life already. My GP is great and agrees that this is the next logical step - NB I can't go on anti-depressants as I'm already on 3 different ones as it is (!). I have absolutely no problem with taking meds.

I'm worried about going on to 'long cycle ' HRT - I'm still having periods - as I know that progesterone can have depression as a side effect. I've been trying to reassure myself that it will be OK asI will only be replacing hormones I have 'lost'. 

Does anyone have any advice / reassurance? My decision to go down the HRT route has been reached after a lot of thought; it's not a split second thing..

Sorry that this has been such a long post - I could have said all this in a lot fewer words, I got a bit carried away ...

Any advice/thoughts gratefully received!



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8 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Anna

    ​I'm so sorry to hear you're in a desperate place. My story is similar to yours. I've experienced episodes of severe anxiety and depression all my adult life but have always managed to pull through. This time last year howvwe my anxiety reached epic proportions, alongside other distessing peri symptoms. I was desperate. To cut a long story short I ended up having a Mirena coil fitted and started on HRT (estradiol 2mg daily) in February. Eight months on I am now back to work and my anxiety is under control. I feel like I'm getting my life back. So do whatever you feel you need to my friend! There is no shame in accepting all the help you can get to survive this horrendous time.

    Take care,

    Anita x

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    • Posted

      Hi Anita

      Thanks so much for your reply - it has really reassured me. I think that these types of peri symptoms are particularly horrible if it's something you've spent a good deal of time fighting already. I had finally put all that stuff behind me - well, not completely, as it doesn't work like that but I was/am confident that I won't get back to the same depths again. It was a massive achievement!

      When I saw the GP last time, she mentioned the coil but only in connection with my periods. They (my periods) are extremely heavy and close together and she thinks I probably have fibroids. She is booking me in for an ultra-sound, just to see whether there is something 'going on', but I have always had really heavy periods and have had tests in the past, which have always come back clear.

      Does the Mirena coil release progesterone? I'm a little worried about that as I'm aware that it can cause depression as a side effect. Having said that, I was on the pill for 4 or 5 years in my 20s and don't remember any adverse effects (or at least I was no worse than I already was!). And, as already mentioned, I keep reminding myself that HRT is replacing lost hormones.

      Anyway, I'm really pleased you're OK now - I know how utterly bleak it can get. It all seems very cruel and unfair, and I hate that I've lost my perspective, and ability to be 'philosophical'. Being a woman is a bit rubbish sometimes, isn't it?!

      Thank you again,

      Anna x

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  • Posted


    I too, thanks to PMS, suffered a little bit with on and off depression prior to peri and now 1 month away from official menopause. I did have a bit of ups and downs and have a nice team of doctors that help me now.  I am on Prometrium (micronized Progesterone) and have not had the horrible type of depression that other forms that I had briefly tried in the past seemed to bring on. I take the Prometrium to balance out (which lately seems like less and less of a need) the excess, if you can imagine, estrogen that my system had.

    I feel much better these days and sleep much sounder. 

    Rest assured, the symptoms do eventually ease up on their own as the body struggles to find it's new normal. I tried to get here without the use of HRTs but honestly, it has been a Godsend for me.  I want the quality of my life to be good. I sure understand where you are at right now and trust me, there is help.

    Please talk to your doc about possibly prescribing the Prometrium in place of the other forms to go with your estrogen if needed. 

    Wishing you well in your journey. Let no one talk you out of what you feel may help you the best. We all are different and what works for one may not another but again, no sense going through life in such misery when there is help availab.e

    Annie xx


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    • Posted

      Hi Annie

      Yes, depression is very definitely an 'evil' - I don't think that there is a more accurate description. Mine has always been clinical (dysthymia plus anxiety, equalling severe and recurrent hideousness) and not hormonal - though it did always get worse pre-menstrual (yay!).

      Thanks for the advice - I've just had a quick look at what types of progesterone are prescribed by NHS doctors, and it looks like Prometrium is fairly common, so I'll certainly be asking the GP when I see her. 

      I just want want my life back!!

      Thanks for your kind words,

      Anna x

      ps I always wanted people to call me Annie, but I could never get it to catch on! 

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  • Posted

    Sorry you are feeling so down. I feel for you. I myself have been in and out of hospitals. I have had trouble with a lot of antidepressants due to stomach issues Paxil was the last straw had insomnia while on that Trazodone raised heart rate stopped both of them just taking my ativan for anxieties. 

    I am thinking about going back on my HRTs 

    I can't stand the stomach issues, the nose bleeds, and not sleeping. 

    You are lucky that antidepressannts don't bother you but they bother me just don't know what to take any more 

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    • Posted

      Hi Susan

      I'm sorry to hear that things are so bad. I believe that Paxil is paroxetine - it goes by the name Seroxat here, and it has had rather a mixed press, with many linking it to violent and suicidal tendencies. However, I have known it work really well for friends so it's hard to judge.

      What I will say is that I was on - over the years - just about every type of anti-d there is (even the old wierd ones where you can't eat certain foods -MAOIs?), and nothing seemed to have any effect. In the end I went to a clinic for 'treatment resistant depression', and it became clear that no anti-d could fully 'break through' the years of ingrained negative thought patterns -  we're talking 20 years' worth. I was advised to go for CBT, which I did, and slowly I found that there were far more healthy ways of thinking. So the antidepressants probably were working, only I had - inadvertently - 'trained' my thinking along such negative and self-defeating lines, that I may as well have been eating Smarties! I'm not saying it was easy - it was a real slog, but the CBT along with the meds really helped.

      I'm not recognisably the same person I was, even with all this menopausal nonsense.

      it's also worth remembering that side effects don't last forever, and normally wear off in a few weeks.

      I couldn't work out what you were saying - did the HRT you were taking not suit you? You probably need to see a doctor who specialises in gyni/menopause and discuss it with her/him. I'm sure that there's a solution for you out there - please don't give up.

      all the best, 

      Anna x


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